Political Animal

January 2012 Archives

January 25, 2012 5:35 PM And that's a wrap

I suspect most readers saw the news yesterday, but just in case, this is my very last post here at the Washington Monthly. I'll start my new gig at MSNBC...

By Steve Benen

January 25, 2012 5:20 PM Hello and Goodbye

When we were first creating the Political Animal blog on this site a decade ago, my first choice to fill it was the only blogger I personally knew, someone who...

By Paul Glastris

January 25, 2012 5:00 PM Wednesday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * Bernanke looks ahead: "The Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that it was likely to raise interest rates at the end of 2014, but not...

By Steve Benen

January 25, 2012 4:20 PM House GOP wants something to show for their efforts

House Republicans, both the leadership and rank-and-file members, are not unaware of their circumstances. After massive wins in the 2010 midterms, GOP officials started 2011 with high hopes. Things haven't...

By Steve Benen

January 25, 2012 2:50 PM If it's Sunday...

Media Matters has, on more than one occasion, documented the extent to which Sunday morning shows rely heavily on Republican guests. This week, Roll Call took a crack at it,...

By Steve Benen

January 25, 2012 2:00 PM Romney and Freddie

To get an edge in advance of Florida's Republican presidential primary, Mitt Romney has gone after Newt Gingrich this week on his ties to Freddie Mac. At first blush, it's...

By Steve Benen

January 25, 2012 1:25 PM Boehner's confidence about keeping his job

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) not only believes his caucus will keep its majority in the next Congress, but told Politico yesterday he expects the Republican House majority to last...

By Steve Benen

January 25, 2012 12:35 PM What's with Romney's Swiss bank account?

Probably the biggest surprise in Mitt Romney's limited tax-return disclosure was the revelation about a Swiss bank account. Given the bigger picture -- including Romney's cash in the Cayman Islands...

By Steve Benen

January 25, 2012 12:00 PM Wednesday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * In Florida, a new Quinnipiac poll...

By Steve Benen

January 25, 2012 11:20 AM Talking up institutional reform

On the surface, there are all kinds of intimidating challenges facing the country. Just below the surface, there are deep partisan and ideological divisions, fueled in part by Republicans' refusal...

By Steve Benen

January 25, 2012 10:30 AM Initial polling on SOTU appears positive

It's only been about 12 hours since the State of the Union address wrapped up, so it's too early to get a complete picture of how it resonated with the...

By Steve Benen

January 25, 2012 9:45 AM PolitiFact keeps falling short of its name

In his State of the Union address, President Obama noted an important observation that Americans may not be aware of: "In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than...

By Steve Benen

January 25, 2012 9:10 AM Daring rescue saves hostages in Somalia

When President Obama entered the House chamber last night to deliver the State of the Union, he stopped briefly to tell Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, "Leon. Good job tonight. Good...

By Steve Benen

January 25, 2012 8:40 AM Daniels is the serious one?

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels delivered the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address, to the delight of GOP insiders who still hope he might run for president....

By Steve Benen

January 25, 2012 8:00 AM An appeal for fairness (and votes)

If President Obama's State of the Union address was intended as a bookend to the December speech he delivered in Osawatomie, Kansas, it was a success. It was in Osawatomie...

By Steve Benen

January 24, 2012 8:40 PM State of the Union Open Thread

In about 20 minutes, President Obama will head to the floor of the House chamber to deliver his 2012 State of the Union address. I'll have plenty of thoughts in...

By Steve Benen

January 24, 2012 5:30 PM Tuesday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * Europe: "Euro zone finance ministers on Monday rejected as insufficient an offer made by private bondholders to help restructure Greece's debts, sending negotiators back...

By Steve Benen

January 24, 2012 4:50 PM Why tonight matters

President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address tonight and will reportedly unveil a new slogan: "win the future" is out; "built to last" is in. One of...

By Steve Benen

January 24, 2012 4:15 PM In defense of partisan SOTU seating

As part of a symbolic gesture, more than 180 members of Congress have reportedly committed to having a seatmate from the other party at the State of the Union address....

By Steve Benen

January 24, 2012 2:45 PM What Boehner considers 'almost un-American'

Over the weekend, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) described President Obama's State of the Union address, which he had not heard, as "pathetic." Today, Boehner pushed the rhetorical envelope a...

By Steve Benen

January 24, 2012 2:05 PM Losing a 23-point lead in a week

As recently as Jan. 15 -- nine days ago -- Gallup's daily tracking poll showed Mitt Romney leading Newt Gingrich by 23 points. In fact, a day earlier, Gallup showed...

By Steve Benen

January 24, 2012 1:05 PM Leave the Navy alone

The only thing that bothers me more than Mitt Romney's falsehoods is when Romney repeats the falsehoods after they've been proven untrue. In last night's debate, the former governor, who's...

By Steve Benen

January 24, 2012 12:20 PM Hello, I must be going

I have some news to share: after three-and-a-half years at the Washington Monthly, I'm moving on. My last post will be tomorrow and I'll start my new career at MSNBC...

By Steve Benen

January 24, 2012 12:00 PM Tuesday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * In Florida, a new survey from...

By Steve Benen

January 24, 2012 11:15 AM 'Self-deportation'

A couple of months ago, Romney campaign spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom was asked what a Romney administration would do with undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. Fehrnstrom said Romney...

By Steve Benen

January 24, 2012 10:30 AM Taking its toll on Romney's reputation

We talked over the weekend about Mitt Romney's "likability problem" -- the more voters see him, the less popular he becomes. As the campaign progresses, this appears to be getting...

By Steve Benen

January 24, 2012 10:00 AM No more white knights

Republican voters, activists, leaders, and pundits are all coming to the same realization: in November, either Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich will be the GOP nominee against President Obama. And...

By Steve Benen

January 24, 2012 9:30 AM When Romney echoes Bachmann

At least in theory, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann represent very different elements of the Republican Party. When the former is echoing the strange arguments of the latter, there's a...

By Steve Benen

January 24, 2012 8:40 AM What we've learned from Romney's returns

Mitt Romney's campaign, as promised, released the former governor's 2010 tax returns, as well as an estimate for his 2011 returns, and we're starting to get a sense of why...

By Steve Benen

January 24, 2012 8:00 AM Turning the dishonesty to 11

Last night's debate for the remaining presidential candidates offered Mitt Romney a chance to try to turn his campaign around. He hasn't had much luck lately, and confidence in his...

By Steve Benen

January 23, 2012 8:10 PM GOP Debate Open Thread

In about an hour, NBC will host the latest in a seemingly-endless stream of debates for the four remaining Republican presidential candidates: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron...

By Steve Benen

January 23, 2012 5:30 PM Monday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * New sanctions on Iran: "The European Union agreed Monday to impose a phased ban on oil purchases from Iran that officials said was needed...

By Steve Benen

January 23, 2012 4:10 PM Answering the tax-return questions

After allowing the issue to raise some serious questions about his campaign, Mitt Romney told Fox News yesterday that he will release his 2010 tax return tomorrow, along with "an...

By Steve Benen

January 23, 2012 3:00 PM Americans Elect's dubious new poll

From a press release that landed in my inbox this afternoon: New polling from Americans Elect shows Americans evenly divided between voting for a Democrat, a Republican, and an independent-minded...

By Steve Benen

January 23, 2012 2:20 PM Rand Paul's ironic incident

The details of the accounts vary a bit, but it appears Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) ran into a little trouble at a Nashville airport this morning. He went through security,...

By Steve Benen

January 23, 2012 1:30 PM High Court: GPS searches require a warrant

The justices didn't exactly agree on the rationale, but all nine ended up in the right place. The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously ruled that the police violated the Constitution...

By Steve Benen

January 23, 2012 12:30 PM Maybe Romney should avoid housing policy

We can probably expect a pretty brutal campaign in Florida, with Mitt Romney needing a win to regain his footing, and Newt Gingrich needing a win to solidify his status...

By Steve Benen

January 23, 2012 12:00 PM Monday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), a year...

By Steve Benen

January 23, 2012 11:25 AM Brownback has his priorities

It's not too uncommon for states to launch initiatives intended to eliminate antiquated and unnecessary laws. Over the course of generations, officials and bureaucracies can approve all kinds of measures...

By Steve Benen

January 23, 2012 10:40 AM The kind of candidate Floridians already know

Even a casual glance at Mitt Romney's campaign pitch reveals a pretty straightforward message: he's a conservative businessman, not a traditional politician, who'll focus on jobs. As the race for...

By Steve Benen

January 23, 2012 10:00 AM Scott Brown's phony concern for public servants

If it seems as if Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) frequently struggles with the basics, it's because he does. Brown also took on President Barack Obama for proposing tax hikes on...

By Steve Benen

January 23, 2012 9:30 AM On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade

It was 39 years ago yesterday that the Supreme Court issued its Roe v. Wade ruling, and not surprisingly, every Jan. 22 since has been an occasion for both sides...

By Steve Benen

January 23, 2012 8:35 AM Romney: U.S. economy 'getting better' under Obama

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) appeared on "Fox News Sunday" yesterday and argued that President Obama's policies "have actually made our economy worse." Then he said it again. And again....

By Steve Benen

January 23, 2012 8:00 AM Putting Keystone on a ransom note

As of a couple of weeks ago, it looked as if House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was eager to avoid another fight over the payroll tax break. The issue had...

By Steve Benen

January 23, 2012 7:15 AM From the Weekend

We covered a fair amount of ground over the weekend. Here's a quick overview of what you may have missed. On Sunday, we talked about: * Mitt Romney looks like...

By Steve Benen

January 22, 2012 10:45 AM Romney partially caves on tax returns

Watching Mitt Romney discuss his willingness to disclose his tax returns, it's been hard not to marvel at the rapid evolution. It was only about a month ago when he...

By Steve Benen

January 22, 2012 9:45 AM All eyes turn to Florida

With the South Carolina primary having come and gone, leaving us with a surprisingly competitive nomination fight, the stakes in Florida's Republican presidential primary have reached new heights. A Romney...

By Steve Benen

January 22, 2012 8:50 AM How Gingrich won S.C.

The exit polls out of South Carolina were pretty fascinating. Exit poll results found that nearly two-thirds of Republican primary voters called the debates important to their vote, and they...

By Steve Benen

January 22, 2012 8:05 AM When a simple race gets more complicated

Earlier this week, the race for the Republican nomination had one thing going for it: simplicity. Mitt Romney had already won Iowa and New Hampshire -- or so we thought...

By Steve Benen

January 21, 2012 6:30 PM Primary Night in South Carolina

The voting in South Carolina's Republican presidential primary will wrap up in about a half-hour, so it's time for another primary night open thread. I'll update this post a little...

By Steve Benen

January 21, 2012 11:15 AM The problem that's hard to fix

Think about where Mitt Romney stood a week ago. He'd won the nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire; his national lead was large and getting larger; and he enjoyed...

By Steve Benen

January 21, 2012 10:25 AM 'He Who Should Not be Named'

Following up on an item from a few weeks ago, Emily Heil reported yesterday on the most "taboo topic" at the Republican presidential candidate debates. Viewers of the approximately 3...

By Steve Benen

January 21, 2012 9:55 AM Don't heart Huckabee

At times, as far-right personalities go, Mike Huckabee doesn't necessarily come across like a bad guy. He tells charming stories; he frequently jokes around with Jon Stewart; and he even...

By Steve Benen

January 21, 2012 9:15 AM This Week in God

First up from the God Machine this week is a look at the recent track of the religious right movement and its spectacularly unsuccessful attempts to dictate the Republican presidential...

By Steve Benen

January 21, 2012 8:35 AM Will Romney start skipping debates?

The South Carolina Republican presidential primary is obviously today, and will be followed by the Florida primary a week from Tuesday. In anticipation of the fourth nominating contest, there are...

By Steve Benen

January 21, 2012 8:05 AM 11th-hour smear campaign targets Gingrich

The South Carolina Republican presidential primary has developed an unfortunate reputation for dirty tricks and ugly smear campaigns. The legend, alas, continues. Twelve years ago, John McCain, fresh off a...

By Steve Benen

January 21, 2012 7:40 AM On the TeeVee

I had a chance to talk about the race for the Republican presidential nomination with Ed Schultz last night on MSNBC's "The Ed Show." As an added treat, instead of...

By Steve Benen

January 20, 2012 5:30 PM Friday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * Scariest thing I've seen in a long while: "2011 was the ninth-warmest year on Earth since 1880, according to NASA scientists, and this dramatic...

By Steve Benen

January 20, 2012 4:10 PM Understanding the nature of 'hypocrisy,' redux

Brian McGrory reports this week on Sen. Scott Brown's (R-Mass.) new attack on Elizabeth Warren: she's apparently an "elitist hypocrite." [Brown] seems to be fuming that his main Democratic rival,...

By Steve Benen

January 20, 2012 3:00 PM Chronicling Mitt's mendacity

Two weeks ago, I launched a new Friday afternoon feature, highlighting the most offensive Mitt Romney falsehoods of the week. Last Friday's installment was well received, so let's keep this...

By Steve Benen

January 20, 2012 1:55 PM Obama's correct call on contraception coverage

In August, the Obama administration announced some very good news: thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and following the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, contraception...

By Steve Benen

January 20, 2012 1:25 PM Romney faces DNC heat over Cayman accounts

The Democratic National Committee sent a press release to reporters last night with an interesting image: For those who can't quite make it out, there's a tropical beach on the...

By Steve Benen

January 20, 2012 12:30 PM SOPA and PIPA are on indefinite hold

The tech industry and free speech advocates have been desperately fighting to derail misguided efforts to combat online privacy, and have had extraordinary success just this week raising the visibility...

By Steve Benen

January 20, 2012 12:00 PM Friday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * In South Carolina, Public Policy Polling...

By Steve Benen

January 20, 2012 11:20 AM Supreme Court strikes down Texas map

This is a ruling that will have an important impact on House races later this year. The Supreme Court on Friday instructed a lower court in Texas to take a...

By Steve Benen

January 20, 2012 10:45 AM 'The real streets of America'

As the Republican presidential field shrinks to just four candidates, we're left with four experienced contenders, all of whom can fairly be characterized as political professionals. But only one of...

By Steve Benen

January 20, 2012 10:10 AM Ron Paul, WWII, and 'special programs'

I generally don't invest too much energy in scrutinizing Ron Paul's comments during debates, but one of his claims last night struck me as bizarre, even for him. CNN's John...

By Steve Benen

January 20, 2012 9:45 AM What retreat looks like

About a month ago, Mitt Romney was asked whether he'd release his tax returns. He said, "I doubt it," adding, "I don't intend to." Eight days later, Romney said he'd...

By Steve Benen

January 20, 2012 8:40 AM How Gingrich connects

The very first question in last night's debate was directed to Newt Gingrich, and it dealt with the gossip that had generated so much chatter throughout the day. CNN's John...

By Steve Benen

January 20, 2012 8:00 AM Romney again stumbles on hidden tax returns

In Monday night's debate, Mitt Romney stumbled badly when asked if he'd release his tax returns. The obvious dissembling was painful to watch: "[Y]ou know, if that's been the tradition...

By Steve Benen

January 19, 2012 7:30 PM GOP Debate Open Thread

In about a half-hour, what's called the "CNN-Southern Republican Debate" will get underway in Charleston, the 16th GOP debate of the cycle. It will be the first debate with only...

By Steve Benen

January 19, 2012 5:30 PM Thursday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * Afghanistan: "More than two dozen people were killed in a four insurgent attacks in southern Afghanistan that began late Wednesday and continued through Thursday...

By Steve Benen

January 19, 2012 4:30 PM Love it or leave it?

The pressure may be getting to Mitt Romney a little bit. A South Carolina protestor asked him this morning about his agenda for helping the 99%, and the former governor...

By Steve Benen

January 19, 2012 3:55 PM What Romney doesn't know about the Navy

Reader M.G. flagged a line Mitt Romney used during Monday night's debate and asked whether the Republican frontrunner is telling the truth. Let's take a look at the Romney quote:...

By Steve Benen

January 19, 2012 2:55 PM Epistemic closure

A year ago, Public Policy Polling ran its annual "TV News Trust Poll." There were plenty of interesting tidbits, but there was one line from the pollster's analysis that stood...

By Steve Benen

January 19, 2012 2:15 PM Romney's stashed cash in the Caymans

Following up on an earlier item, as if there weren't enough questions involving taxes swirling around Mitt Romney, his offshore accounts make his tax returns that much more important. The...

By Steve Benen

January 19, 2012 1:30 PM Auto-industry rescue paying dividends

One of the more clear-cut triumphs of President Obama's first three years has been the success of his auto-industry rescue. Republicans predicted it would fail miserably. They were wrong and...

By Steve Benen

January 19, 2012 12:30 PM Can an old story be a bombshell?

It's a very busy day in the race for the Republican nomination. The results of the Iowa caucuses point towards a new winner; Rick Perry is out; Mitt Romney has...

By Steve Benen

January 19, 2012 12:00 PM Thursday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * As expected, Rick Perry officially "suspended"...

By Steve Benen

January 19, 2012 11:25 AM 'Socialist' used to mean something

The latest national New York Times/CBS News poll has plenty of interesting tidbits, but reader J.F. flags some numbers I'd overlooked. Way into the poll -- page 26, question 85...

By Steve Benen

January 19, 2012 10:50 AM Obama's first ad

As expected, President Obama's re-election campaign unveiled its first television ad of the year yesterday. There's been some chatter about whether it's too early for such a step, but I...

By Steve Benen

January 19, 2012 10:10 AM Santorum won Iowa after all

As if we needed another reason to question why Iowa is always allowed to go first, it turns out Republicans in the Hawkeye State didn't quite get the results of...

By Steve Benen

January 19, 2012 9:35 AM Rick Perry to exit stage right

In September, Rick Perry entered the Republican presidential race to significant fanfare. Finally, conservatives thought, they had a credible alternative they could trust, and who could save the party from...

By Steve Benen

January 19, 2012 8:40 AM Jobless claims reach a four-year low

The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last two months has been largely encouraging, though there have been setbacks. Last week, for example, was a step in the...

By Steve Benen

January 19, 2012 8:00 AM Romney's offshore accounts draw scrutiny

With Mitt Romney still refusing to release his tax returns, we can only speculate as to why he's so afraid of disclosure. The widely held assumption has been that the...

By Steve Benen

January 18, 2012 5:30 PM Wednesday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * The International Monetary Fund is "seeking to boost its war chest by $600 billion to help countries reeling from the crisis, even though some...

By Steve Benen

January 18, 2012 4:40 PM The result of incompetence

Reader J.J. passes along an interesting tidbit from Gloria Borger's latest column for CNN: Imagine my surprise when, in the CNN/ORC International Poll out last week, Republicans rated Romney as...

By Steve Benen

January 18, 2012 2:50 PM Playing the blame game

There would appear to be a contradiction in the polls. On the one hand, Americans continue to be deeply unsatisfied with the state of the economy. On the other, President...

By Steve Benen

January 18, 2012 1:55 PM Romney's tax rate is only half the problem

In the wake of his concession yesterday that he pays a lower tax rate than much of the American middle class, Mitt Romney has renewed discussion about his "15% problem."...

By Steve Benen

January 18, 2012 1:00 PM Obama admin nixes Keystone pipeline

The Keystone XL oil pipeline has become a major source of partisan wrangling. The project would stretch from Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Gulf Coast of Texas, posing major...

By Steve Benen

January 18, 2012 12:30 PM Never let 'em see you sweat

Presidential campaigns hardly ever release internal polling, so from the outside, we don't know if the candidates are getting encouraging or discouraging news from their pollsters. But when it comes...

By Steve Benen

January 18, 2012 12:00 PM Wednesday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * The 2012 presidential election is still...

By Steve Benen

January 18, 2012 11:15 AM Leave child-labor laws alone

Support for child-labor laws was taken as a given for much of the 20th century. The fact that this seems to be changing is getting kind of creepy. Marie Diamond...

By Steve Benen

January 18, 2012 10:25 AM Christie burns Romney on hidden tax returns

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has arguably been Mitt Romney's most trusted and highest-profile campaign surrogate. Talk of Christie possibly serving as the Republican frontrunner's running mate has been...

By Steve Benen

January 18, 2012 9:50 AM Perry's weak defense over Turkey

During Monday night's debate in South Carolina, Rick Perry argued that Turkey "is being ruled by, what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists." The argument is ridiculous -- Turkey...

By Steve Benen

January 18, 2012 9:15 AM On Wisconsin

Opponents of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) were expected to do well in their efforts to recall him. Few expected them to do this well. Democrats seeking to recall Gov....

By Steve Benen

January 18, 2012 8:40 AM When polished meets clumsy

When compared against his Republican rivals, Mitt Romney is extremely slick. After nearly 18 years as a politician, and more than five years as a near-constant presidential candidate, the former...

By Steve Benen

January 18, 2012 8:00 AM The state of play for SOPA, PIPA

The tech industry and free speech advocates have been desperately trying to generate interest in their fight against misguided efforts to combat online privacy. As of this morning, their efforts...

By Steve Benen

January 17, 2012 5:30 PM Tuesday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * The more ambitious, the better: "The Obama administration has signaled to allies that it will take a more aggressive role this year in protecting...

By Steve Benen

January 17, 2012 4:30 PM A choice, not an echo

Rick Santorum's presidential campaign released a new television ad overnight, which has caused a bit of a stir in Republican circles. Here's the 30-second spot, which will begin airing in...

By Steve Benen

January 17, 2012 3:10 PM Nothing 'moderate' about this plan

We've gotten a fairly good look at the kind of policy agenda Mitt Romney will pursue if elected. It's not terribly ambitious -- certainly nothing on par with "saving the...

By Steve Benen

January 17, 2012 2:35 PM An 'unprecedented level of public disgust'

The conservative Washington Times published an interesting analysis this week, concluding that this Congress has "set a record for legislative futility by accomplishing less in 2011 than any other year...

By Steve Benen

January 17, 2012 1:45 PM Who gets the blame for early '09?

Consider a thought experiment. Imagine you could go back to March 1, 2009, when the global economy is on the brink of collapse. The White House's Recovery Act had just...

By Steve Benen

January 17, 2012 12:35 PM Quote of the Day

The political significance of Mitt Romney's hidden tax returns almost certainly has to do with his tax rates. The Republican frontrunner has been reluctant to admit he pays much lower...

By Steve Benen

January 17, 2012 12:00 PM Tuesday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * In national polls, the new ABC...

By Steve Benen

January 17, 2012 11:30 AM 'Work requirement' for unemployment aid?

When it comes to extending unemployment benefits, congressional Republicans have become increasingly aggressive in demanding a series of "reforms." GOP officials are eyeing a new system that would cut eligibility,...

By Steve Benen

January 17, 2012 10:30 AM Follow the moving goal posts

Mitt Romney's private-equity firm never tried to create jobs; it simply wasn't the point of Bain Capital's work. The goal was to generate wealth for Romney's investors, not create jobs....

By Steve Benen

January 17, 2012 9:55 AM Why Gingrich was cheered

Most pundits seem to agree that Newt Gingrich was the winner of last night's debate on Fox News, and he was certainly the only candidate on the stage to get...

By Steve Benen

January 17, 2012 9:15 AM Perry's perception of 'war'

In all likelihood, we won't have Texas Gov. Rick Perry to kick around much longer. The one-time frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination is now in last place in the...

By Steve Benen

January 17, 2012 8:30 AM The most glaring lie of the night

It's hard not to marvel at just how dishonest Mitt Romney is prepared to be in order to win. The notion of politicians misleading the public to advance their ambitions...

By Steve Benen

January 17, 2012 8:00 AM Romney stumbles on hidden tax returns

Mitt Romney tends to shine in Republican presidential debates in large part because he generally seems prepared. Putting aside whether his answers are truthful or sensible, the former governor's answers...

By Steve Benen

January 16, 2012 8:00 PM GOP Debate Open Thread

In about an hour or so, the six remaining Republican presidential candidates will take the stage in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for yet another debate, this one on Fox News....

By Steve Benen

January 16, 2012 5:00 PM Monday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * Escalating crisis in Yemen: "Al-Qaida militants seized full control of a town south of the Yemeni capital on Monday, overrunning army positions, storming the...

By Steve Benen

January 16, 2012 4:15 PM Misguided boasts about a new ceiling

Republican consultant/pundit Mike Murphy got in an interesting dig this morning at the conventional wisdom surrounding Mitt Romney. In particular, Murphy noted a Fox News poll showing Romney leading the...

By Steve Benen

January 16, 2012 2:50 PM 'Unrecognizable'

The Romney campaign released an odd memo over the weekend, which was largely forgettable, except for the conclusion, which stood out for me. When Barack Obama ran for the presidency,...

By Steve Benen

January 16, 2012 1:30 PM Religious right splintering points to larger problem

It seemed like a fairly significant deal over the weekend when over 100 prominent and influential evangelical leaders -- all significant players in the religious right movement -- held an...

By Steve Benen

January 16, 2012 12:35 PM After running attack ads, Huntsman decries 'toxicity'

As expected, Jon Huntsman left the race for the Republican presidential nomination this morning, but as he "suspended" his campaign, the former governor took some time to decry candidate "attacks."...

By Steve Benen

January 16, 2012 12:00 PM Monday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * Apparently one Super PAC isn't quite...

By Steve Benen

January 16, 2012 11:15 AM Gingrich backs illegal firings

The disgraced former House Speaker sure does say strange things. Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich suggested at a Fox News forum hosted by Mike Huckabee in South Carolina on Saturday...

By Steve Benen

January 16, 2012 10:40 AM Countries aren't corporations

In his latest column, CNBC's Larry Kudlow equates the United States with "U.S. Government Inc." As he sees it, this "company" is facing "bankruptcy," and needs a private-equity firm to...

By Steve Benen

January 16, 2012 10:00 AM How Santorum defines 'social engineering'

On "Fox News Sunday," Chris Wallace pressed Rick Santorum on his plan to triple the federal tax credit for children, in the hopes that Americans will have more babies. The...

By Steve Benen

January 16, 2012 9:30 AM Worst MLK comparison ever

It's disconcerting to think Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll (R) might actually believe her own rhetoric. "On Monday, we're going to be celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday and I...

By Steve Benen

January 16, 2012 8:35 AM Candy Crowley, jobs, and 'facts'

There was an interesting exchange on CNN's "State of the Union" yesterday, when Candy Crowley pressed David Axelrod on one of Mitt Romney's favorite talking points. To establish the context,...

By Steve Benen

January 16, 2012 8:00 AM Huntsman exits, endorses 'unelectable' rival

It was only a matter of time. Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor and Obama administration official, has probably known for a long while that he would not be the...

By Steve Benen

January 16, 2012 7:15 AM From the Weekend

We covered a fair amount of ground over the weekend. Here's a quick overview of what you may have missed. On Sunday, we talked about: * The religious right has...

By Steve Benen

January 15, 2012 11:20 AM The religious right movement finds its man

Prominent religious right groups and leaders have known all along they don't want to see Mitt Romney get the Republican presidential nomination. They have not, however, coalesced around an alternative...

By Steve Benen

January 15, 2012 10:10 AM Silly minds think alike

Me, in August: "'Corporations are people'? In this little figure of speech, wouldn't that make Mitt Romney a metaphorical serial killer?" The new ad from Stephen Colbert's Super PAC: "As...

By Steve Benen

January 15, 2012 9:30 AM What Bolton forgot about 2009 (and 1969)

At the risk of beating a dead horse, I wanted to follow up briefly on John Bolton's shot, on Mitt Romney's behalf, against President Obama's counter-terrorism record. Specifically, the right-wing...

By Steve Benen

January 15, 2012 8:45 AM No need to look askance at Europe

Delivering his victory speech in New Hampshire this week, Mitt Romney used three words three times: "jobs," "economy," and "Europe." One of those things is not like the other. Keep...

By Steve Benen

January 15, 2012 8:00 AM Putting SOPA on a shelf

Misguided efforts to combat online privacy have been threatening to stifle innovation, suppress free speech, and even, in some cases, undermine national security. As of yesterday, though, there's a lot...

By Steve Benen

January 14, 2012 11:00 AM Mitt Romney's new problem: A rising sun

Mitt Romney was on the campaign trail in South Carolina yesterday, and brought up the issue he expects to ride into the White House: the U.S. economy. Unfortunately for the...

By Steve Benen

January 14, 2012 10:05 AM John Bolton picks the wrong fight

As a matter of policy and politics, John Bolton isn't making any sense. (thanks to reader V.S. for the tip) Speaking before a crowd of veterans in Hilton Head, SC...

By Steve Benen

January 14, 2012 9:20 AM An odd way of showing 'concern for the poor'

NBC News reported yesterday that Mitt Romney made a "slight tweak to his usual campaign message" during an appearance in South Carolina yesterday. Traditionally on the stump and in debates,...

By Steve Benen

January 14, 2012 9:00 AM It sure looks like a recess

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had a little fun at the GOP leadership's expense this week, mocking the Speaker and Majority Leader for their recent globetrotting. As Dems see it,...

By Steve Benen

January 14, 2012 8:30 AM Arizona reconsiders sale of state capitol

A couple of years ago, Republican policymakers in Arizona thought they'd come up with a clever idea: they'd put the state capitol up for sale. Seriously. For GOP officials, it...

By Steve Benen

January 14, 2012 8:00 AM This Week in God

First up from the God Machine this week is an important Supreme Court ruling on employment discrimination and a "ministerial exception." In what may be its most significant religious liberty...

By Steve Benen

January 13, 2012 5:30 PM Friday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * Eurozone: "Standard & Poor's Corp. on Friday stripped France of its sterling credit rating, cut Portugal's credit to junk status and downgraded Italy's debt...

By Steve Benen

January 13, 2012 3:05 PM Chronicling Mitt's mendacity

Paul Krugman noted this morning that Mitt Romney tells so many falsehoods so often, he seems determined to rehabilitate George W. Bush's reputation "by running a campaign so dishonest that...

By Steve Benen

January 13, 2012 2:15 PM Penny wise, pound foolish

Suzy Khimm offers a great example of budget cuts costing, not saving, us money. The Internal Revenue Service got hit with a 2.5 percent budget cut for 2012, paring back...

By Steve Benen

January 13, 2012 1:20 PM POTUS pushes for streamlined government

As the White House explained this morning, there are currently six major federal departments or agencies that focus on business and/or trade: the U.S. Department of Commerce's core business and...

By Steve Benen

January 13, 2012 12:35 PM 'Banking on the re-flip'

There is a school of thought, recently articulated by Nicholas Kristof among others, that says a vote for Mitt Romney may be a vote for the moderate agenda he's forcefully...

By Steve Benen

January 13, 2012 12:00 PM Friday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * The "King of Bain" video put...

By Steve Benen

January 13, 2012 11:25 AM Boehner's once bitten, twice shy

My prediction about the failure of a year-long payroll tax-cut deal isn't looking so good. On the contrary, it's looking increasingly likely that an agreement should come together well ahead...

By Steve Benen

January 13, 2012 10:35 AM Get to know Steel Dynamics

Mitt Romney has a new ad out this morning, which, in addition to moving the job-creation goal posts, defends the candidate's private-sector business practices at Bain Capital. Hoping to bolster...

By Steve Benen

January 13, 2012 10:00 AM To hell with the 'quiet room'

While some would have us limit all discussions of income inequality to "quiet rooms," I'm relieved to see that President Obama's economic team feels differently. What Mitt Romney a few...

By Steve Benen

January 13, 2012 9:10 AM How low can he go?

Everyone has probably heard the corny "I once caught a fish this big" joke. A guy boasts about the size of the fish he reeled in, but when pressed, he...

By Steve Benen

January 13, 2012 8:30 AM Playing with fire

I can appreciate that staff work on Capitol Hill is not always fast-paced and exciting, but when Republican aides are passing the time with wildfire office pools, there's a problem....

By Steve Benen

January 13, 2012 8:00 AM 'The French Connection'

The short film put together by Newt Gingrich's Super PAC is proving to be one of the bigger political stories of the week, but a new video from the Gingrich...

By Steve Benen

January 12, 2012 5:30 PM Thursday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * Deplorable: "A video showing four United States Marines urinating on the bodies of three dead Taliban fighters provoked anger and condemnation on Thursday in...

By Steve Benen

January 12, 2012 4:40 PM OLC backs recess appointments

When President Obama announced his recess appointments last week, Republicans were not only outraged by the White House's move on political grounds, they also argued that the appointments were in...

By Steve Benen

January 12, 2012 3:20 PM The attacks McCain doesn't remember making

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), despite his apparent distaste for Mitt Romney, has become one of the former governor's more forceful campaign surrogates. Today, the senator tackled Romney's record of mass...

By Steve Benen

January 12, 2012 2:15 PM Answering the Public Editor's question

Arthur Brisbane, Public Editor of the New York Times, has a piece today asking, "Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante?" The piece is generating some spirited discussion, so I...

By Steve Benen

January 12, 2012 1:20 PM Why we can't have nice things

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) appeared on MSNBC this morning, and spoke briefly about his perspective on the nature of compromise. "[S]aying to compromise now, and I use this analogy a...

By Steve Benen

January 12, 2012 12:35 PM High-profile GOPers validate Democratic case

A certain former half-term governor of Alaska weighed in on Mitt Romney's business background, telling Fox News last night that Romney (1) should offer "proof" of his dubious job-creation boasts;...

By Steve Benen

January 12, 2012 12:00 PM Thursday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * In a fairly impressive display, President...

By Steve Benen

January 12, 2012 11:30 AM 'Why Mexico is Losing its Drug War'

In Colombia, for much of the last decade, Alvaro Uribe had considerable success combating a narco-insurgency. U.S. officials were impressed enough to try to export the Uribe model to other...

By Steve Benen

January 12, 2012 10:45 AM Defining a rival early

Some of Mitt Romney's Republican rivals, most notably Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, have invested quite a bit of energy lately in going after the former governor's private-sector background. Very...

By Steve Benen

January 12, 2012 10:15 AM What the DNC chair didn't say

Much of the right, including the chairman of the Republican National Committee, threw quite a fit yesterday over comments about civility made by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of...

By Steve Benen

January 12, 2012 9:50 AM An ugly spike in jobless-claims data

The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last month has been very encouraging. This week's report, however, was bad enough to send a ripple of fear among those...

By Steve Benen

January 12, 2012 9:15 AM It's like deja vu all over again

Dave Weigel made a very clever observation yesterday, noting the striking similarities between the 2008 and 2012 races for the Republican nomination. I'm thinking of a Republican primary. It starts...

By Steve Benen

January 12, 2012 8:55 AM The new Gilded Age gets noticed

We're apparently not supposed to talk about this outside of "quiet rooms," but more and more Americans are taking note of the tensions between the haves and the have nots....

By Steve Benen

January 12, 2012 8:00 AM 'When Mitt Romney Came to Town'

We knew the short film from Newt Gingrich's Super PAC, targeting Mitt Romney's private-sector work, was on the way. We didn't know just how devastating it would be. Probably the...

By Steve Benen

January 11, 2012 5:30 PM Wednesday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * Iran: "A bomber on a motorcycle killed a scientist from Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment site and his bodyguard-driver on Wednesday during the morning commute...

By Steve Benen

January 11, 2012 4:35 PM 'A time of broadly shared prosperity'

The New York Times had a terrific editorial today, taking a big-picture view of the race for the Republican presidential nomination and the "journey into the dingy, cramped quarters of...

By Steve Benen

January 11, 2012 3:05 PM Pushing worthwhile questions into 'quiet rooms'

On NBC this morning, Matt Lauer asked Mitt Romney whether Americans with "questions about the distribution of wealth and power in this country" are necessarily motivated by, in the Republican's...

By Steve Benen

January 11, 2012 2:10 PM Did GOPers fear the Romney juggernaut?

Ben Smith makes the case today that Mitt Romney is a much stronger presidential candidate than many give him credit for. As Smith sees it, the former governor is "the...

By Steve Benen

January 11, 2012 1:10 PM I once caught a job this big

As recently as five months ago, Mitt Romney boasted about having created "tens of thousands of jobs" at his vulture-capital fund. "When I was at Bain Capital, we invested in...

By Steve Benen

January 11, 2012 12:35 PM Clarence Thomas' brand of justice

In 1995, a group of men burst into a New Orleans home in search of money and drugs. They ordered those inside to lie down and then opened fire, killing...

By Steve Benen

January 11, 2012 12:00 PM Wednesday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * Mitt Romney's campaign raised an impressive...

By Steve Benen

January 11, 2012 11:25 AM The Myth of American Productivity

We've all heard politicians boast that American workers are the most productive workers in the world. It's worth pausing to consider whether that's true or not. Michael Mandel tackles the...

By Steve Benen

January 11, 2012 10:35 AM A tale of two speeches

After watching Mitt Romney's speech in New Hampshire last night, I went back and watched Barack Obama's speech in New Hampshire, delivered almost exactly four years ago. The contrast told...

By Steve Benen

January 11, 2012 10:05 AM Department of self-defeating arguments

Congressional Republicans are still quite outraged by President Obama's recess appointments last week, and plan to take up a resolution criticizing the move -- just as soon as they return...

By Steve Benen

January 11, 2012 9:25 AM The relative meaning of 'moderate'

Ezra Klein makes the case this morning that in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, "moderation is winning." Which is not to say Romney's plans make him a moderate....

By Steve Benen

January 11, 2012 8:35 AM The GOP's turnout problem

Last week, underwhelming Republican turnout in the Iowa caucuses fell short of expectations and hinted at a listless, uninspired party. Yesterday in New Hampshire, it happened again. Going into the...

By Steve Benen

January 11, 2012 8:00 AM NH results should, but won't, winnow field

Mitt Romney's victory in New Hampshire wasn't quite as big as expected, but it didn't matter. The former governor, who led a neighboring state and lives much of the year...

By Steve Benen

January 10, 2012 7:25 PM Primary Night in New Hampshire

The results in New Hampshire are already starting to trickle in, so it's time for a primary night open thread. I'll update this post with results and noteworthy developments as...

By Steve Benen

January 10, 2012 5:30 PM Tuesday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * Assad reduced to conspiracy theories: "In his first public address in months, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria lashed out on Tuesday at the Arab...

By Steve Benen

January 10, 2012 4:20 PM The right's new line: celebrate layoffs

Mitt Romney clearly wishes he could take back the line, "I like being able to fire people," but since that's not an option, it's up to him, his campaign, and...

By Steve Benen

January 10, 2012 3:45 PM Transparency that defines 'ethical conduct'

Looking back over the last several months, nothing has caused as much trouble to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign as C-SPAN archives. Eagle-eyed researchers have relied on these archived clips to...

By Steve Benen

January 10, 2012 2:40 PM Optimism vs. pessimism

The New York Times's Andrew Rosenthal checked in yesterday with a report on the latest Mitt Romney/Chris Christie event in New Hampshire. A line from the end of the report...

By Steve Benen

January 10, 2012 1:25 PM Taking a sledgehammer to the foundation

Mitt Romney has run into quite a bit of scrutiny lately, most notably about his background as it relates to jobs. He said there have been times he worried about...

By Steve Benen

January 10, 2012 12:35 PM GOP fails to leverage PolitiFact's misjudgment

A few weeks ago, PolitiFact made a serious mistake in selecting its "Lie of the Year." As the editors of the political fact-checking website saw it, Democratic claims that House...

By Steve Benen

January 10, 2012 12:00 PM Tuesday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * Voting got underway this morning in...

By Steve Benen

January 10, 2012 11:25 AM Four out of six

Igor Volsky flagged a great piece from Nancy French, who reported the other day that Rick Santorum supported an individual health care mandate when he ran for the Senate in...

By Steve Benen

January 10, 2012 10:35 AM Fighting on Democrats' turf

Take a guess who said this yesterday: "Voters are just now meeting the Real Romney -- the buyout tycoon who executed takeovers, bankrupted businesses, and sent jobs overseas while killing...

By Steve Benen

January 10, 2012 10:05 AM Prospects for Round 2 of the payroll fight

When we last left the fight over the payroll-tax-break extension, House Republicans had caved and agreed to pass a two-month extension. It was a heartening victory for Democrats, and a...

By Steve Benen

January 10, 2012 9:30 AM Down the rabbit hole, indeed

A variety of conservative media outlets, including Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Caller, are worked up this week about a newly-discovered White House outrage: a 2009...

By Steve Benen

January 10, 2012 8:40 AM Quite a field

Reader F.B. flagged an interesting exchange on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" yesterday in which Joe Scarborough passed along assessments of the Republican presidential field from veteran political journalists. Here's the clip:...

By Steve Benen

January 10, 2012 8:00 AM 'It's going to be absolutely huge'

When Mitt Romney talked to the Nashua Chamber of Commerce yesterday morning about his take on premium support in health care policy, he couldn't possibly have known the mess he...

By Steve Benen

January 09, 2012 5:30 PM Monday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * Europe: "Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France warned Greece on Monday that it needed to move forward with promised...

By Steve Benen

January 09, 2012 4:35 PM The substance behind the gaffe

Mitt Romney's campaign critics -- Democrats and Republicans, alike -- have had quite a bit of fun today with his "I like being able to fire people" quote. By any...

By Steve Benen

January 09, 2012 3:30 PM Classless Christie

I don't find much to like about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). Political reporters tend to adore the guy -- I guess for some, the "loveable loudmouth" is an...

By Steve Benen

January 09, 2012 2:40 PM Daley to depart as WH Chief of Staff

Bill Daley's tenure as White House chief of staff has proven to be more difficult than administration insiders had expected. When he was brought in, Daley, a former Commerce Secretary...

By Steve Benen

January 09, 2012 2:00 PM Fear of pink slips

Mitt Romney tends to run into trouble when he tries to relate to Americans who are struggling. There was that time over the summer, for example, that he joked about...

By Steve Benen

January 09, 2012 1:20 PM 'Independents' Day

Gallup has a new report out this morning on how Americans identify themselves when it comes to political party. The results are generating a fair amount of interest, but I'd...

By Steve Benen

January 09, 2012 12:30 PM 'I like being able to fire people'

Mitt Romney's detractors in both parties are eager to point out one of the more glaring problems with the former governor's background: he's put thousands of Americans out of work....

By Steve Benen

January 09, 2012 12:00 PM Monday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * There have been all kinds of...

By Steve Benen

January 09, 2012 11:20 AM 'What they say is how they'll govern'

I suspect a whole lot of American voters have grown cynical and are no longer inclined to take campaign promises seriously. There's very likely an assumption that politicians will say...

By Steve Benen

January 09, 2012 10:40 AM Making Bain the center of attention

It took a while, but Bain Capital and its victims are finally starting to become a central issue of the presidential campaign. Newt Gingrich's Super PAC, an outfit called Winning...

By Steve Benen

January 09, 2012 10:00 AM Santorum starts to find new friends

Ordinarily, I wouldn't much care who Gary Bauer endorses for president, but there's a relevant backstory to this. Bauer, for those unfamiliar with the name, is a prominent religious right...

By Steve Benen

January 09, 2012 9:20 AM Don't root for public-sector job losses

Brenda Buttner, a senior business correspondent at Fox News, reflected yesterday on the latest jobs report, and made a curious comment when asked about which areas of the economy aren't...

By Steve Benen

January 09, 2012 8:35 AM Turning 'country first' on its head

There are quite a few elements to Jon Huntsman's background and ideology that contribute to his struggling campaign, but his service in the Obama administration is probably near the top...

By Steve Benen

January 09, 2012 8:00 AM Telling falsehoods for no good reason

Newt Gingrich's status in the Republican presidential campaign went from "frontrunner" to "barely hanging on" over the course of about two weeks. There's no great mystery as to why: $4...

By Steve Benen

January 09, 2012 7:20 AM From the Weekend

We covered a fair amount of ground over the weekend. Here's a quick overview of what you may have missed. On Sunday, we talked about: * When it comes to...

By Steve Benen

January 08, 2012 12:00 PM Romney flubs his own standard on job creation

In last night's debate, Mitt Romney made a new boast about his record on job creation at Bain Capital. "[I]n the business I had, we invested in over 100 different...

By Steve Benen

January 08, 2012 11:20 AM Huntsman longs for 'a sane Republican Party'

Jon Huntsman appears to be coming to terms with the fact that he won't be the Republican presidential nominee in 2012. Ordinarily, competitive candidates who still expect to win wouldn't...

By Steve Benen

January 08, 2012 10:35 AM Romney: elected office is for the rich

About 10 hours after last night's debate, the six Republican presidential candidates met again this morning for another debate, this time sponsored by NBC and Facebook. This one was far...

By Steve Benen

January 08, 2012 9:25 AM It's about privacy, not contraception

One of the more noteworthy exchanges in last night's debate came about mid-way through the event, when ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked Mitt Romney about, of all things, contraception. The question...

By Steve Benen

January 08, 2012 8:40 AM Santorum's vision

Rick Santorum was asked last night about the 1,800 same-sex couples who are married in New Hampshire, and what would happen to them if he succeeds in adding an anti-gay...

By Steve Benen

January 08, 2012 8:00 AM The gloves stay on

Before every recent debate for the Republican presidential candidates, I think to myself, "OK, this will finally be the one in which the GOP field goes after Mitt Romney." And...

By Steve Benen

January 07, 2012 8:45 PM GOP Debate Open Thread

In about 15 minutes, the remaining Republican presidential candidates will In about an hour or so, the six remaining Republican presidential candidates will take the stage at St. Anselm's College...

By Steve Benen

January 07, 2012 11:15 AM Does flip-flopping matter?

When it comes to the Democratic strategy against Mitt Romney in 2012, the party has a few themes to choose from. The first is that Romney is a far-right ideologue...

By Steve Benen

January 07, 2012 10:40 AM Casual allegations of treason

Rick Santorum argued earlier this week, with a straight face, that President Obama has "sided with our enemies." The same day, Santorum also accused the president of engaging in "absolutely...

By Steve Benen

January 07, 2012 10:05 AM Romney haunted by his victims, cont'd

We talked yesterday about Mitt Romney's Bain Capital and the millions it made while crushing a Missouri steel company called GS Technologies. Reuters called the fiasco the "steel skeleton in...

By Steve Benen

January 07, 2012 9:45 AM Is Kristol finally ready to settle?

For quite a while, Bill Kristol, The Weekly Standard editor and leading Republican voice, has been pining for new entrants into the Republican presidential field. But this week, the GOP...

By Steve Benen

January 07, 2012 8:45 AM This Week in God

First up from the God Machine this week is a word from on high as to who will win the 2012 presidential election. Most of us will have to rely...

By Steve Benen

January 07, 2012 8:00 AM The 'how many homes' question

Four years ago, John McCain ran into a little trouble when he owned so many homes, he forgot exactly how many and had to check with his staff. Mitt Romney...

By Steve Benen

January 06, 2012 5:30 PM Friday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * Amazing rescue: "In the middle of a tense standoff between Iran and the United States, the crew of an American destroyer patrolling the North...

By Steve Benen

January 06, 2012 4:40 PM Santorum's unique spin on job numbers

For the most part, Republicans responded to the good jobs report this morning with quiet bemusement. They don't want to say it's encouraging, because Republicans don't want to give the...

By Steve Benen

January 06, 2012 3:25 PM Mitt's mendacity

After catching Mitt Romney repeating another obvious falsehood, Greg Sargent noted this afternoon, "I know this risks getting boring and predictable, but we really should document them all." That's a...

By Steve Benen

January 06, 2012 2:40 PM Unhappy campers

A year ago, congressional Republicans were an exuberant bunch. Riding high after massive midterm gains, and with President Obama's approval ratings faltering, GOP leaders and rank-and-file members felt very good...

By Steve Benen

January 06, 2012 1:35 PM Scrutinizing the recess-appointment power

Congressional Republicans hoped pro-forma sessions every third day on Capitol Hill would prevent President Obama from making recess appointments. It didn't -- the president decided these sessions were a sham...

By Steve Benen

January 06, 2012 12:35 PM When Romney sought (and received) a bailout

It's a familiar story: Mitt Romney's Bain Capital takes over a company, the company is ruined, and Romney and his investors make millions. But few of these stories look worse...

By Steve Benen

January 06, 2012 12:00 PM Friday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * Who won the Iowa caucuses? Probably...

By Steve Benen

January 06, 2012 11:10 AM GOP refuses to let House Dems speak

There was a bizarre scene on the House floor a couple of weeks ago, when Democratic lawmakers tried to bring up a bill, and House Republicans simply shut down the...

By Steve Benen

January 06, 2012 10:35 AM Obama to make major green-card reform

For thousands of American families, this reform will have a tremendous impact. Obama administration officials announced on Friday that they will propose a fix to a notorious snag in immigration...

By Steve Benen

January 06, 2012 9:55 AM The industry doesn't look 'traumatized and terrified'

Reading the new jobs report, I was reminded of something Dick Morris wrote over the summer. In August, the economy lost 30,000 healthcare jobs.... So why are jobs down? It...

By Steve Benen

January 06, 2012 9:10 AM Private sector jobs looking much stronger

In the previous post, we talked about the new monthly jobs report, but in keeping with tradition, here's a slightly different chart -- one showing just the private sector job...

By Steve Benen

January 06, 2012 8:50 AM Job growth picks up steam, unemployment drops

Mitt Romney will probably find today's jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics very discouraging. The rest of us, though, have reason to smile. The U.S. economy gained 200,000...

By Steve Benen

January 06, 2012 8:00 AM Romney's tax plan: Robin Hood in reverse

Back in August, Mitt Romney made a deliberate effort to appear moderate on taxes. "I don't want to waste time trying to get tax cuts for wealthy people because frankly,...

By Steve Benen

January 05, 2012 5:30 PM Thursday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * Deadly violence in Iraq: "A suicide bomber blew himself up next to a large group of Shiite Muslims on a pilgrimage Thursday, one in...

By Steve Benen

January 05, 2012 4:30 PM Cordray gets to work

Now that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a director, it can get to work on some long-overdue priorities. For America's middle class, that's terrific news. The new director of...

By Steve Benen

January 05, 2012 3:25 PM The GOP's 'problems with the Hispanics'

John McCain talked to Chuck Todd this morning, and acknowledged his party's "problems" with a certain constituency. (via Jenee Desmond-Harris) Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about...

By Steve Benen

January 05, 2012 2:50 PM George Will's descent

George Will has struggled for quite some time when dealing with climate policy, but his latest piece, arguing that global warming is part of an elaborate collectivist plot, is really...

By Steve Benen

January 05, 2012 1:50 PM A misguided appeal for a moderate Mitt

Nicholas Kristof presents an argument today that I've heard before, but which I struggle to understand. As the NYT columnist sees it, Mitt Romney was a "moderate and pragmatic governor,"...

By Steve Benen

January 05, 2012 12:40 PM Setting the standards for the jobs debate

It has quickly become a standard talking point for Mitt Romney: during his tenure at Bain Capital, he created "over 100,000 new jobs." Campaign officials have been reluctant to back...

By Steve Benen

January 05, 2012 12:00 PM Thursday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * Though it certainly looked as if...

By Steve Benen

January 05, 2012 11:15 AM What if the GOP wins in November?

It's far too soon to say with any confidence who'll win the 2012 presidential election, but it's hardly unreasonable to believe a Republican victory is a distinct possibility. But while...

By Steve Benen

January 05, 2012 10:50 AM Meet Donny Box

When it comes to Mitt Romney's background at Bain Capital, we tend to think about the layoffs in the abstract. Romney orchestrated leveraged buyouts, flipping companies quickly for large profits,...

By Steve Benen

January 05, 2012 10:10 AM Sincerest form of flattery

If you were in Washington in the 1990s, you may recall that the left spent a considerable amount of time and energy focused on intellectual infrastructure. Progressives looked at the...

By Steve Benen

January 05, 2012 9:20 AM Big Bird's boss weighs in

Last week, Mitt Romney relied on a standard conservative talking point to make a point about the budget: he's eyeing changes to public television. "I like PBS," the Republican said....

By Steve Benen

January 05, 2012 8:40 AM Jobless-claims data improves again

Last week's report on initial unemployment claims was far less encouraging, but the general trend in an encouraging direction continued this week. The number of Americans who filed requests for...

By Steve Benen

January 05, 2012 8:00 AM Progress vs. process

Republicans were not at all pleased yesterday when President Obama used a recess appointment to make Richard Cordray the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But as Felicia Sonmez...

By Steve Benen

January 04, 2012 5:30 PM Wednesday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * EU vs. Iran: "The countries of the European Union have agreed in principle to impose an embargo on Iranian oil, but there are many...

By Steve Benen

January 04, 2012 4:50 PM Can McCain define 'destroy'?

As we talked about earlier, John McCain probably didn't want to endorse Mitt Romney today, but he did. Was this largely a matter of party loyalty and the Republican establishment...

By Steve Benen

January 04, 2012 3:25 PM Obama starts 2012 on an aggressive foot

President Obama raised quite a few eyebrows this morning when the White House announced a recess appointment for Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It was an...

By Steve Benen

January 04, 2012 2:30 PM An endorsement McCain didn't want to make

As had been expected, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) threw his support to Mitt Romney at a campaign event in New Hampshire today, the latest evidence that the Republican establishment is...

By Steve Benen

January 04, 2012 1:30 PM Conservatives to gather, look for 'consensus'

For Republicans hoping to deny Mitt Romney the party's presidential nomination, the problem has never been their numbers. The former governor has consistently run into a modest ceiling precisely because...

By Steve Benen

January 04, 2012 12:45 PM McConnell's concern for 'precedent'

President Obama, to the delight of progressives everywhere, will appoint Richard Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau through a recess appointment. Congressional Republicans are predictably apoplectic. Here's a statement...

By Steve Benen

January 04, 2012 12:00 PM Wednesday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * In case you missed it, Michele...

By Steve Benen

January 04, 2012 11:30 AM Bachmann exits stage right

So long, Michele, we knew you all too well. Rep. Michele Bachmann is suspending her presidential campaign, said a senior Republican official with direct knowledge of the lawmaker's plans. The...

By Steve Benen

January 04, 2012 10:35 AM Obama to give Cordray a recess appointment

This is a big, bold move by the president, and I couldn't be more pleased. In a defiant display of executive power, President Barack Obama on Wednesday will buck GOP...

By Steve Benen

January 04, 2012 10:00 AM Why Obama & Co. liked what they saw in Iowa

When I wrapped up last night (technically, this morning), I said President Obama was the big winner from Iowa's Republican caucuses. A few readers asked what I meant by that,...

By Steve Benen

January 04, 2012 9:30 AM Why the turnout totals matter

This was supposed to be a big year for Republican voter turnout in Iowa. With GOP voters reportedly eager as part of their crusade against President Obama, and with six...

By Steve Benen

January 04, 2012 8:55 AM As Republicans leave Iowa, what happens now?

The ideal scenario for Mitt Romney in Iowa wasn't just a victory -- he also wanted the other candidates to do just well enough to stick around for a long...

By Steve Benen

January 04, 2012 8:00 AM Santorum comes 8 votes short, declares: 'Game on'

It was easy to imagine Mitt Romney winning the Iowa caucuses. It was harder to imagine Romney winning Iowa and looking weaker at the same time. And yet, that seems...

By Steve Benen

January 03, 2012 7:45 PM Caucus night in Iowa

In about 15 minutes, roughly 150,000 Republicans in Iowa will gather for the 2012 Republican presidential caucuses. I'll update this post with results as they're available, but in the meantime,...

By Steve Benen

January 03, 2012 5:30 PM Tuesday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * Good economic news on construction spending and manufacturing activity. * Warnings from Iran: "Iran's army chief on Tuesday warned a nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier...

By Steve Benen

January 03, 2012 4:45 PM Romney's odd definition of 'middle class'

I have a hunch as the campaign progresses, we'll be hearing this quote again. Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy For those who can't...

By Steve Benen

January 03, 2012 3:55 PM It depends on the meaning of 'nothing'

Jennifer Rubin today reflects on President Obama's re-election strategy, and argues he'll struggle to point to meaningful accomplishments, especially from his first two years in office. Recall that Obama had...

By Steve Benen

January 03, 2012 2:50 PM Caveat emptor on election projections

The Washington Post's Charles Lane has a piece today arguing that the recent poll numbers are "gloomy" for President Obama. Campaign 2012 is upon us. Time to size up President...

By Steve Benen

January 03, 2012 1:35 PM What Romney fails to understand about jobs

Mitt Romney addressed one of his biggest vulnerabilities -- jobs policy -- on Fox News this morning, and made a series of claims his campaign seems awfully excited about: "This...

By Steve Benen

January 03, 2012 12:35 PM Setting the standard for dishonest smears

There's no great mystery as to why Newt Gingrich's support collapsed in Iowa: Mitt Romney and his friends spent nearly $4 million in three weeks to tear Gingrich apart. But...

By Steve Benen

January 03, 2012 12:00 PM Tuesday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * Newt Gingrich said yesterday of his...

By Steve Benen

January 03, 2012 11:25 AM The name that must not be spoken

Bill Clinton left the White House in January 2001, and in the 2004 race, Democratic candidates were tripping over each other to connect themselves to the nation's 42nd president. I...

By Steve Benen

January 03, 2012 10:45 AM The ACA actually combats fraud and abuse

John McDonough has a good piece on an overlooked benefit from the Affordable Care Act: it's doing quite well in combating fraud and abuse, which in turns saves Americans quite...

By Steve Benen

January 03, 2012 10:15 AM GOPers bite their tongues on rail, infrastructure

The NYT has a good piece today on the extent to which Republicans used to support high-speed rail, and the fact that GOP presidential hopefuls like Newt Gingrich and Rick...

By Steve Benen

January 03, 2012 9:20 AM Gingrich takes off the gloves

For the last several weeks, Newt Gingrich has gone out of his way to keep a positive message, making it a staple of his campaign strategy. It didn't work --...

By Steve Benen

January 03, 2012 8:25 AM Meet Charlie Black

Four years ago at this time, Mitt Romney was condemning John McCain for inviting corporate lobbyists to help run the senator's presidential campaign. Now, Romney has begun taking strategic advice...

By Steve Benen

January 03, 2012 8:00 AM How the Iowa caucuses will work

The focus of the domestic political world will obviously be on Iowa today, and the awaited caucuses will get underway in about 12 hours. Following up on an item Ed...

By Steve Benen

January 02, 2012 5:30 PM Monday's Mini-Report

Today's edition of quick hits: * Apparent hate crimes in NYC: "A wave of arson attacks spread across eastern Queens on Sunday night, and the police said the firebombings were...

By Steve Benen

January 02, 2012 4:30 PM It seems to me, he lives his life with a finger in the wind

Byron York had an interesting report the other day on the process Mitt Romney went through before running for the Senate. He noted, for example, that the Massachusetts Republican traveled...

By Steve Benen

January 02, 2012 3:50 PM Let's not parse the meaning of 'tax increase'

We talked earlier about a fascinating exchange during last night's "60 Minutes" on CBS, when Lesley Stahl noted that Reagan raised taxes and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's press secretary...

By Steve Benen

January 02, 2012 3:25 PM Congress' 'unimaginably low' approval rating

As regular readers may know, I place very little stock in Rasmussen polls, but given yesterday's discussion about whether we're seeing the worst Congress in American history, I found this...

By Steve Benen

January 02, 2012 2:25 PM 'Repair the world'

Campaigning in Iowa today, Mitt Romney took a relatively new tack in going after President Obama, characterizing the president as having promised to be a savior to the entire planet....

By Steve Benen

January 02, 2012 1:35 PM Malleable standards on voter ID

As part of an aggressive Republican "war on voting," GOP policymakers in much of the country are putting new hurdles between Americans and their election process. The most common --...

By Steve Benen

January 02, 2012 12:40 PM For no reason, Santorum 'singled out blacks'

Over the weekend, Rick Santorum told an Iowa audience, "Diversity creates conflict. If we celebrate diversity, we create conflict." It seemed like an odd thing for a presidential candidate to...

By Steve Benen

January 02, 2012 12:00 PM Monday's campaign round-up

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers: * As the Republican race in Iowa...

By Steve Benen

January 02, 2012 11:20 AM Bachmann's scary saber rattling

As Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann sees it, the key to turning around her collapsing campaign is talking up a military confrontation with Iran. The Minnesota lawmaker, who is courting...

By Steve Benen

January 02, 2012 10:35 AM Romney vows to kill DREAM Act if elected

Every year, tens of thousands of young, undocumented immigrants graduate from American high schools, but are quickly stuck -- they can't qualify for college aid, and they can't work legally....

By Steve Benen

January 02, 2012 10:05 AM A photo finish in Iowa

The Iowa caucuses are, of course, just a day away, and for campaign junkies following the contest, the polls can't come quickly enough. But because the race is changing so...

By Steve Benen

January 02, 2012 9:35 AM Romney haunted by his victims

During Mitt Romney's Senate campaign 17 years ago, the Republican politician was faring quite well against Ted Kennedy, right up until voters started hearing from some of Romney's victims. To...

By Steve Benen

January 02, 2012 8:25 AM Cantor can't handle the truth about Reagan

CBS's "60 Minutes" ran a good profile on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) last night, but there was one portion of the interview that was especially important. In this...

By Steve Benen

January 02, 2012 8:00 AM How Santorum knows he's doing well

Over the weekend, it became clear that Rick Santorum, after months of having been largely ignored, is on track for a top-three finish in the Iowa caucuses. By some measures,...

By Steve Benen

January 02, 2012 7:20 AM From the Weekend

We covered a fair amount of ground over the weekend. Here's a quick overview of what you may have missed. On Sunday, we talked about: * President Obama intends to...

By Steve Benen

January 01, 2012 12:10 PM Worst. Congress. Ever?

The NYT reports today that President Obama, looking ahead to the November elections, is planning "to step up his offensive against an unpopular Congress, concluding that he cannot pass any...

By Steve Benen

January 01, 2012 11:10 AM 'Diversity creates conflict'

Zeke Miller has a piece this morning arguing that Rick Santorum may excel in the Iowa caucuses, but given the campaign's message, he'll likely struggle to compete just about everywhere...

By Steve Benen

January 01, 2012 10:30 AM NDAA gets a signing statement

As expected, President Obama yesterday signed the Defense Authorization bill that largely funds the military. And as expected, this year's NDAA came with a signing statement. President Obama ... said...

By Steve Benen

January 01, 2012 9:25 AM The pot calling the kettle 'nasty'

Kevin Drum flagged a Newt Gingrich quote yesterday that's almost hard to believe. In fact, I watched the video just to make sure the Republican wasn't misquoted in the print...

By Steve Benen

January 01, 2012 8:45 AM Finger-pointing begins inside Perry camp

It's never a good sign when a presidential campaign's insiders begin dishing dirt on their colleagues before voters start expressing their preferences. Take Rick Perry's team, for example. Four months...

By Steve Benen

January 01, 2012 8:10 AM Where things stand in Iowa

We talked last night about the sought after results of the Des Moines Register's Iowa Poll, which, not surprisingly, continue to show a competitive contest. Let's briefly revisit where things...

By Steve Benen